Saturday, August 20, 2016

Near Christianity by Anthony Le Donne

I was so lucky to get to review this new book from Anthony Le Donne. It comes out September 20, and if you have any interest in Christianity, Judaism, faith, history or racial issues, you should put it in your cart RIGHT NOW. I always feel grateful when super-smart people write books that are not only important, but also interesting and easy to read. It's so nice of them! 

Here's my take on it: 

Le Donne uses C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, an examination of the very crux of Christianity and the essence of what it is that Christians believe, to explore what he calls “the borders” of Christianity - the places where Judaism and Christianity intersect and blur. He does this beautifully- holding nothing back, exploring in depth both the good and the very bad in the history of Christianity’s relationship to Judaism, including “the war on Christmas,” the Holocaust, and Martin Luther’s work “The Jews and Their Lies.” He inserts personal conversations with Jewish scholars, demonstrating the importance of an open and respectful dialogue. As he puts it, “I wanted a way into the problem and better tools for navigating it.” What results is a book that causes the reader to examine rather than condemn or defend. It is breathtakingly timely.

Scholars are usually working very hard to keep from inserting themselves into their work, but Le Donne has written a book that includes his feelings, thoughts, and personal story. What results is a very carefully thought out and meticulously nuanced work. The presence of Le Donne’s journey between doubt and faith never sounds like the work of an apologist, and you don't get the sense that he’s written this book to shore up his own system of belief. He leads you through tough questions, sharing his own discovery of a richer and less individualistic faith.

I expected to be challenged reading this book, and I certainly was, but what delighted me was how comforted I felt when I finished. This is one of those books I will recommend to everyone, especially those who are studying critical scholarship and are looking for ways to respond to the troubling questions that arise as a result.


Anthony Le Donne said...

Thank you, Sarah, for your close read and very generous review!


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